This week, the spotlight is on Alfredo Franco and his short story, “H.D. Brennemann,” published first in Gulf Stream Magazine.
Q: What inspired you to write “H.D. Brennemann”?
So much that is seemingly disparate converges to inspire a story, but one thing that certainly influenced me was the architecture along the Karl Marx Allee, once the main street of East Berlin, capital of the defunct German Democratic Republic. It is nowadays almost a backwater of reunified Berlin, and fairly empty, which increases its haunting monumentality.
Q: How long did it take you to write it?
I work on stories for a long time in my mind—months or years, even—so that when the actual writing finally occurs, it does so fairly quickly. I wrote the first draft of this story in Berlin in about two weeks, working for about three hours every day, including weekends, and jotting down notes constantly while moving through the city. I spent several months after that on revisions and incorporating the suggestions of a few trusted readers.
Excerpt of “H.D. Brennemann”:
H.D. Brennemann, as he had named himself, arrived in Berlin. The Cold War was long over, the city reunified for sixteen years. As his taxi went along the monumental but desolate Karl Marx Allee, the main avenue in East Berlin, Brennemann felt as though he was travelling through an abandoned city, Teotihuacan or Knossos. His memories of the capital of the defunct German Democratic Republic were full of terror and failure. It was his first time back to Germany since his release from Hohenschönhausen prison in 1986. Release was not really the word—he and a handful of other low-level American agents had been traded over the Glienicke Bridge for one Warsaw Pact operative of greater value: in this business, you always knew your worth.
To read the complete work, visit Issue #6 of Gulf Stream Magazine.